Review of The Whisper Jar by Carole Lanham


Electronic cover image of The Whisper Jar by Carole Lanham

This past Halloween weekend, I spent my nights engrossed in a book of short stories that was well-written, intriguing, and surprisingly, incredibly hard to put down. The Whisper Jar, by author Carole Lanham, speaks to the little kid in us grown-up GeekMoms that still like fairy tales, but with a deliciously wicked and weird twist.

The book was released October 31st, 2011, fittingly on Halloween, from Morrigan Books. According to her website biography, Carole Lanham has published twenty-four short stories and one novella since she began writing full time in 2004. Seven of her stories have received honorable mentions in Year’s Best volumes, one story was short-listed for the Million Writer’s Prize, and one was chosen as a Notable Story of the Year in 2008 for the Million Writer’s Prize. She has won two writing contests and two of her stories made the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker award for Outstanding Achievement in a Short Story. She is also a monthly contributor at Storytellers Unplugged.

Carole Lanham, the Horror Homemaker. Image from her website.

Carol contacted me via Good Reads, after noting that I gave positive reviews to History is Dead, edited by Kim Paffenroth, in which her story, The Moribund Room, was published in a few years ago. The collection The Whisper Jar opens with a long poem, titled after the book, that lets the reader know exactly what a whisper jar is and how it is used. I loved the poem and found myself reading it aloud. Seven stories and another poem follow, each its own separate tale. I can’t really say that I had a favorite; every time I finished one and decided I liked it the most, the next one would make me change my mind.

Carole must have known what she was doing when she contacted me to review this book. How could I not love a collection of stories that include vampires, fairies, zombies, and more? The best part is that she doesn’t reinvent anything here; Ms. Lanham made the creatures her own by creating characters that are altogether interesting and disturbing, to say the least. I wouldn’t recommend this book to children, but it may be okay for older teenagers. There is no graphic sexuality, but it is implied. The only gripe I have about the book is that I wish it was longer. That really can’t be a bad thing to say about someone’s writing, though, can it?

If I had to give it a numbered review, I would give it four out of five. I would recommend it to readers who like books like My Mother She Killed Me, My Father She Ate Me, a collection of fairy tales edited by Kate Bernheimer, or the graphic novels Fables from Vertigo Comics. Below is a listing of the stories and poems in The Whisper Jar.

  • The Whisper Jar
  • The Good Part
  • Keepity Keep
  • The Blue Word
  • Maxwell Treat’s Museum of Torture for Young Girls and Boys
  • Friar Garden, Mister Samuel, and the Jilly Jally Butter Mints
  • The Reading Lessions
  • The Adventures of Velvet Honeybone, Girl Werewuff
  • The Forgotten Orphan

You can visit Carole Lanham online at and Links to purchase her books, including The Whisper Jar, are on her websites.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author for review purposes.

Pumpkin Shine on Line – Family Halloween Fun!

An actual place, not an internet site.

When one hears the words “Pumpkin Shine On Line,” they may think it’s a place on the internet to show off shiny gourds. Folks in my parts will know that it’s referring to an annual event, that happens the week before Halloween, on Line Avenue in Shreveport, Louisiana. One of the biggest and oldest parks in town, Betty Virginia Park, plays host to this fun family event, with a local private school facilitating the planning and festivities.

Students from schools in our parish (which would be a county in any other state) paint, carve and decorate their own pumpkins. They enter them into the contest, free of charge, along with any other person who would like to try their hand at decorating. Beginning at about five in the evening, hundreds of pumpkins line the half-mile trail that winds around the park. Families come in droves to marvel at the work that kiddos and artistic Halloween lovers create for this event, which is free to attend. Judges walk around and pin ribbons to the pumpkins that they think are the best designs. In my opinion, the best pumpkins are the ones that were obviously created by a child, with little help from an adult. There is always entertainment, like school choirs or dance teams, performing for the crowd. You could buy some pizza or candy to munch on, for a pretty reasonable price. Most of the time, kids just want to have fun on the playground, and it’s hard for parents to get them to come off the slides and swings to head home for bedtime.

One of my favorite pumpkins, a lion, with a very cool mane.

My kids have been attending the Pumpkin Shine for years. It has grown so big that this year, we could hardly keep up with all of our family because of the crowds. My oldest son, Michael, wasn’t as interested as he used to be. He spent more time playing with his toddler baby cousins, which I don’t think anyone had any complaints about; he helped to keep an eye on them and make them smile. Sammy, who is eleven, still has a little bit of childhood innocence in him. He ran ahead and checked out all of the pumpkins, including the one he carved for his 6th grade homeroom class. After his quick scan of it all, he ran back to ask me if he could “run around and act stupid.” I took that as meaning that he wanted to find his friends, but since he left his cell phone at home, I told him it was a no-go.

Sammy searches for friends to "run around and act stupid with."

I took lots of pictures of the pumpkins this year. The popular theme every year is always children’s books, especially the entries from elementary schools. The 2011 Pumpkin Shine was dominated by Angry Birds and The Smurfs. I have a slideshow of all of the pictures I took, and it’s worth looking at to see how interesting and creative some got with their pumpkins. It could even give you some great ideas for your pumpkin carving and decorating this year. You can click on the link below to check out the pictures I took. Does your town have a similar event for Halloween celebrations? Tell us in the comments section, I would love to hear about it!

Photos from 2011 Pumpkin Shine on Line

Zombie Race for Charity & Lots of Laughs!


Chef Zombie, me as Homecoming Queen Zombie, Doug & daughter Maddie as a zombie family.

A few days ago, I had the distinct privilege of competing in the only race I have ever been in, not counting elementary school field days. Every year, my town of Shreveport, Louisiana has two different charity events: Run with the Nuns, a motorcycle rally that benefits children’s health programs in our community, and the Shreveport Zombie Walk, which benefits our local food bank, and I also coordinate.

While working on planning the zombie walk, Liz Swaine, the head of the Shreveport Downtown Development Authority, was immensely helpful. She is the reason our zombie walk was downtown this year instead of at a local mall, and it was much more successful, as I wrote in a previous post for GeekMom. Liz had a wonderful idea; she wanted to have a zombie race at opening night of Run with the Nuns. Spectators would bet on which zombie they hoped would make it to the finish line first, and all of the proceeds go to charity. Liz just needed me to help round up some zombies. How could I resist?

Parcel Peggy takes a break before the race, so she will be in tip-top shape.

Several of my dedicated volunteers at the annual zombie walk stepped up. One couldn’t make it due to illness, so she sent her daughter and friend in her place. Another gentleman, Doug, who is always a wonderful costume judge at the walk, brought his young daughter, to be a family zombie team for charity. My most helpful volunteer at the walk this year, Peggy, donned her scariest make-up and black contacts and showed up as a very creative “Parcel Peggy.” Super dedicated and generous zombie fan Buzz came as the original block head, “Charlie Brown Zombie.” My good friend Keith, box office manager of our downtown indie theater, the Robinson Film Center, took a break from work and stepped out onto the closed-off street in his Shreveport Zombie Walk-iconic “Zombie Chef” costume to join in the fun. I went as “Homecoming Queen Zombie,” knowing that a zombified version is the only way I would ever be crowned as such.

Charlie bit Snoopy, then Snoopy ate Woodstock. What a blockhead!

We wandered the crowd, talked with Liz, and drew straws to decide who would actually win the race. We acted out in clever ways to make the crowd laugh; from stretching our aching, decomposing bones at the start line, to walking around aimlessly, trying to nibble on each other. Spectators started placing bets. Chef Zombie was the most popular; in my opinion, Keith must have a “fast” look to him, because when the race started, he was great at going the wrong way and those who bet on him were going crazy!

Liz announced all of us zombies; we all came with a back story as to how we died and became zombified. The crowd listened and placed more bets. The prize for picking the winning zombie? A $100 gift card to a grocery store, good mostly for the butcher department, Liz told the crowd. The finish line was established. Our goal was a nun, Sister Sharon, who was standing at the end. The first zombie to make it to her would get some tasty nun flesh as a reward. I find it immensely refreshing that the Sisters were so fun; they loved our make-up and chatted with us before the race. I will say it here, and I have said it before: Creative, fun & different ways to raise money or goods for charity are the way to go. This zombie race was a wonderful idea.

Zombies were told to make the race last; drag it out, make it funny and engaging, make the finish be a nail-biter. We took the challenge and I think we all did wonderful! We had a blast and the crowd seemed to love it. One of the teen zombie’s dad was nice enough to use my camera to get video of the entire race for me. Here it is, in it’s fake blood-filled hilarity. This may be the funniest five minutes you will watch today. (Note: it is dark at the beginning of the video, but it does lighten up.)

What Time Is It? Adventure Time!

Sammy shows his love for Adventure Time and the many faces of the main character, Finn.

Have you seen this strange cartoon that appears Monday nights, on Cartoon Network? It’s called Adventure Time, and I have to admit, my whole family is in love with it. When I say that it is strange, I mean that it is like no other cartoon you have ever watched before. When I say that it is wonderful, I mean that it is funny and creative, holding the attention of kids and adults equally.

It took me watching a few episodes to understand what the main premise of the show is all about. Jake is a human boy and his best friend is a dog named Jake. The two live in a strange land called Ooo, which I suspect is future Earth after magical creatures have populated it and humans have become extremely rare. Jake and Finn are heroes; their goal is to help anyone that needs their assistance, and protect innocent creatures. In most episodes, the main villain is “Ice King.” Ice King’s main goal in life is to steal a princess and marry her.

Many of the Princesses from Adventure Time. Image from Wikia.

There are so many princesses to choose from in this crazy realm; from Princess Gumball,  the Hotdog Princess, to an eerie Ghost Princess. Then there is my personal favorite, Lumpy Space Princess, who has the attitude and accent of a valley girl, but a deep, man-like voice. I can’t help but laugh every time “L.S.P.” gets angry and spouts something like, “Don’t lumping yell at me!”

If I had to list just a few things that make this series stand out, I would have to say they are as follows:

  • The animation style, which is bright, colorful and clean. It reminds me of other shows like Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and the Miyazaki films.
  • The clever story lines; they are inventive and different from all of the usual plots you see in shows these day. The writers can do anything in Adventure Time; Ooo is a world of fantasy so the possibilities are endless!
  • Recognize that voice? A lot of the characters are voiced by famous voice actors, such as Tom Kenny, who lends his vocal talent to the title character in Spongebob Squarepants and in this show, Ice King. John DiMaggio voices Jake in Adventure Time, but you might also recognize him as Bender from Futurama. Minor characters have been voiced by actors such as George Takei, Ron Perlman, Lou Ferrigno and Andy Milonakis.
  • There are lessons to be learned; yes, there are a few things in the series that parents may not approve of, like the way the characters exclaim their dismay with phrases like “What the stuff!” and “Don’t squeeze me, I’ll fart!” I would recommend that ten-year-olds and up watch it, lest you want your young child to go around making jokes about passing gas that no one but lovers of the show (and bathroom humor) would appreciate. With that out of the way, kids can take away from Adventure Time that the good guys always win, the bad guys always have to face consequences, and Jake and Finn are always great friends who help others in need.


Sammy got bored at work with me one day and built his own N.E.P.T.R. out of spare parts.

If you can find it online or a re-run, my favorite episode is “What is Life?” which features a robot that Finn builds to throw pies in Jake’s face, to be the prank of all pranks. A short clip of the episode can be watched on YouTube. Andy Milonakis voices the robot, known as N.E.P.T.R., which stands for “Never Ending Pie Throwing Robot.”

My advice? Watch for the talking balloons and Ice King’s minion penguin, Gunter. They are the funniest part of the whole episode.

The show is in its third season on Cartoon Network, but season one was recently released, titled My Two Favorite People, on DVD and is available to purchase. New episodes premiere Mondays nights at 8/7 Central Time. Lots of fun games and video clips, including a few full-length episodes, are at

Fantastic Mr. Fox: An Interactive Puppetry Experience You Can Really Get Into!

When I saw the advertisements around my humble town of Shreveport, Louisiana for a production of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, I thought to myself, “Oh, a puppet show. That’s nice; another way to enjoy the story, besides just watching the movie.” After actually experiencing it a few days ago with my husband and 11-year-old son, Sammy, I quickly realized that my previous thoughts on the matter were glaring understatements and didn’t do the production justice at all. In the words of the well-traveled Sammy, “This is the best thing I have ever been to in my entire life; it’s even better than Legoland!” That’s a serious comparison coming from a boy who for three years, before actually spending a day at Legoland, saved up every single free pass to the theme park that came with a new Lego set, even after they had expired.

Sammy gives his review of Fox after the show while hagning out with narrator Caleb Gaston, who is his buddy and fellow Whovian!

After buying our tickets online, I did a little research about the production and the people behind the making of Fantastic Mr. Fox. I found out that it is the brain-child of three totally cool guys (in my personal opinion). Arthur Mintz, who had previously worked on Disney’s James and the Giant Peach, came up with the idea of adapting the story of Mr. Fox’s adventures into such a cool, interactive experience. He got together with pals Jacques and Rene Duffourc, who agreed to help make it all happen. It wasn’t long before Hi-YAH! Productions was started. Fantastic Mr. Fox opened in New Orleans, in late 2010, to rave reviews and eventually sold-out shows. It had to be extended several times due to its immense popularity.

William Joyce, creator of the PBS animated series George Shrinks and the hit Disney cartoon Roly Polie Olie, calls Shreveport his home and is on the Advisory Board for a local art, theater and music exhibition center, not to mention all around amazing place, in our downtown called artspace. I got to chat with Jacques Duffourc after the show, and he told me that Mr. Joyce made them “an offer that they couldn’t refuse” to bring Fox to artspace in Shreveport. Even with a list of demands, like needing to cut holes in walls and take up space on several floors of the building, Jaques told me that artspace has been wonderful and that they couldn’t have pulled it all off without the support they’ve gotten from everyone involved. I have to admit that I am glad it all worked out:  I’m about to tell you a little bit about the show, without spoiling it, because if you are lucky, you may be within driving distance. If not, Jacques seems pretty confident that Fox is on it’s way up; several agencies from New York and Los Angeles have shown interest in the production, so it could be headed your way sometime soon, after a hoped-for blessing from the Roald Dahl estate.

The creators of the show, Hi-YAH Productions. L to R: Rene & Jacques Duffourc, Arthur Mintz. Image courtesy of

We first entered downstairs, to a normal looking basement-type of room, decorated with the artwork of children who had drawn their own “wanted” posters for Mr. Fox. A television played a loop of a short preview of what was to come. It wasn’t long before Jacques greeted everyone and lead the audience of about 25 kids and adults (the maximum per show is 30) to an elevator that we we all rode up one floor, ten at a time, to a seating area where the show would begin. The first thing I noticed was the curtain; it was sewn together with bits of fabric and various clothing; most recognizable was a pair of khaki-colored corduroy jeans. “Neato!” I said, pointing them out to Sammy. The curtain parted and the very exuberant narrator, wearing two different-colored Chuck Taylor All Star tennis shoes, began telling us a little of the back story of Mr. Fox, the main character. He imparted a few gags that the kids got quite a kick out of, but I won’t ruin it here, in case you are ever an audience member. One in particular got praise from Sammy, considering that the narrator that night happened to be one of his older classmates from kung fu class, a young man named Caleb, and he gave a little extra attention to my son, who was sitting on the front row.

Over the Hill, image courtesy of

The audience didn’t sit long; we were soon given headlamps and adults were offered knee pads (which I later wished I had taken advantage of) so that we could literally crawl into the story book! Our head lamps lit the path as we found our way through dark tunnels, pieced together quite creatively from pieces of cardboard boxes, and came out into the first of many wonderful sets, called “Over the Hill.” Being inside the set like that, crawling around and sitting on the cardboard-covered floors, looking around in wonder at all of the great detail and artistry that went into making it all so wonderful and elaborate, made me feel like I was a kid again. I was back in my own bedroom, an eight-year-old little girl, playing house inside of a shelter that I had carefully built with the sheets and blankets confiscated from all of the beds in my home. It was magical, without a doubt.

We moved into different sets, by means of more tunnels, a ladder and even slides. Some parents opted to take the “back way,” and I even did that a time or two, to save my knees a little grief and to get to see what the outside of the set looked like. It was amazing! Overtaking the stairwell and several floors of the building were the tunnels and slides, covered in up-cycled cardboard that had been torn apart and pieced back together again. Jacques later told me, after the show, of the “cardboard parties” they hosted in order to build the set, inviting volunteers to come and piece it all together, with the promise of a little food or drink in exchange.

Mr. Fox and his puppeteer for our performance, Cazes Verbois.

The audience never sat back and just “watched a puppet show.” We were actually in the show. The puppeteers were in the sets with us; they wore clothes that blended into the background and although it was obvious they were there, after awhile, you just didn’t notice or care that they were. At times throughout the show, the narrator encouraged us to shout, to yell, to tell the characters what they should do. We all formed a bond and were very comfortable with one another; we were are in this experience together and we were having a great time! A few of the younger kids got a little frightened at moments, like when scenes went dark or a rather large puppet would come into a scene unexpectedly. The show is recommended for ages four and up due to the “athletic nature of the performance and crawling and sliding required,” but I think that is a good age to judge its appropriateness by also, considering the few screams and whimpers I heard from the under-four crowd when a few thematic elements got underway. It seemed so real at times that a few toddlers wanted to leave, but to me, that just shows the high quality of the production itself. I also noticed that towards the end, some of those same kiddos showed a little more bravery and were no worse for the wear. When I asked him what one of the most rewarding parts of putting on the performance was, Jacques told me that for him, it was watching the transformation of the children, going from unsure and a little bit frightened, to brave and ready to take on whatever the next tunnel would bring. I would have to agree with him on that; after reassuring a few kids that it was all going to be just fine, I noticed them later cheering and exclaiming about how much they loved it and wanted to come back.

The puppeteers of Fantastic Mr. Fox, showing for a limited time at artspace in Shreveport, Louisiana.

In today’s day and age, our children are over loaded with digital devices and electronic entertainment. It’s rare to find a kid who doesn’t own an iPod, iPhone, Nintendo DSi or other hand-held device that keeps them from ever having a dull moment. Even in taking our children out of the home for entertainment, we all usually just sit and watch, depending on someone or something else to dance, sing or make bright colors interesting enough to take us away from something else that could possibly be even more interesting and engaging. It is truly refreshing to be a part of an event — yes, I will call it an event, because it is not just a “show” in my opinion — that makes the audience feel like they are right there in the story, and the only way they will find out more is to get on their hands and knees and crawl to the next scene. Instead of just absorbing moving images on a screen, we were participants and we had to be engaged. The children got to touch, jump, slide, climb, crawl and even at one point, snack, right there in the performance.

Sammy hangs out with Cub, who is a little geekling, much like he is!

Parents in today’s society, as a whole, seem to have gotten away from letting kids really have fun. We’ve all heard of “helicopter parents,” the kind that constantly hover over their children, fearful that something bad may happen to them if they don’t watch over them all the time. Kids need to just be kids; they need to jump, run, crawl, slide and get dirty sometimes. I did it when I was a kid and I seemed to have turned out okay (for the most part!). How else can children learn to rely on themselves and figure things out on their own, if their parents are always making every little decision for them? Fantastic Mr. Fox at artspace is a wonderful example of good ideas, creative interactive theater, great fun, and a great way for kids (and parents) to let go and have a good old-fashioned fun time, while leaving the television and video games systems at home for a night. I truly hope that a lot of GeekMom readers are within driving distance; it is well worth whatever number of hours away you have to travel to see it. It is only showing until the end of November, and there are plenty of other great things to do in the area, so it would be well worth it to make a day, or even a weekend out of it.

For more information, including showtimes and tickets, visit

Anybody Want a Peanut?

Still from the movie, courtesy of

No, I’m not trying to give away my oldest son. (Michael’s nickname since the day he was born, almost 14 years ago, has been Peanut.) I’m quoting my favorite movie of all time, The Princess Bride.

Although it was released when I was only ten years old, I really got into watching it when I was fourteen and in the ninth grade. I would go to the local library to study and do my homework, then inevitably come home with a borrowed copy of The Princess Bride on VHS.

Courtesy of Getty Images.

Eventually, I ended up with a copy of my own, through means that I can’t even remember. Since then, I have gone through that VHS tape and I now own the 20th Anniversary DVD version. (I also happen to be watching it as I write this very post.) I really need to get a hold of the Blu-Ray version. The Princess Bride to me is like Star Wars is to my husband; I want every media version of it I can get my hands on. My husband owns a laser disc player for the sole purpose of playing the Star Wars movies of which he owns laser disc copies.

This year is the 25th Anniversary of my favorite movie. Entertainment Weekly had the cast (what is remaining or available) for a special photo shoot. It was bittersweet because Andre the Giant is no longer alive; his character is one of the best parts of the movie for me, hence me naming this article after one of his lines from the film. I have passed on my love of this movie to my sons, more to Sammy than Michael, so I know that all is going as planned.

See the resemblance?

Naming pets is a serious matter for our family. Our dog is named Fang, after the pooch from the original Get Smart TV series, which my husband and son Sammy love so dearly. Sammy’s hamsters have had meaningful names also: dearly-departed Sophia was named after the sassy mother of Dorothy on The Golden Girls, because when we brought her home, she kept throwing her paw up to us as if to say, “Talk to the hand!” After Sophia passed, Sammy got another hamster, and he is named “The Doctor.”

Check out the shirt Sammy is wearing on his trip to Los Angeles last year. He gets a lot of comments on it.

Eleven years ago, I got a kitty. She was six weeks old when I brought her into our home; a black and grey tabby, my favorite breed and color. I had never had a house pet before. Growing up, I had a few cats that hung around the neighborhood that I considered “mine,” but this kitty, she was the first to ever really be my kitty. She was special to me and she was to have a special name. I brainstormed and and I fretted for hours until I finally settled on a name: Princess Buttercup. Of course, we only call her Buttercup. Sometimes Butter, sometimes Butterbutt. My cousin Michael, upon first meeting her eleven years ago, dubbed her “Thundercleese Earth Destroyer.” She is my sweet baby kitty and I love her so much! Just like I love my favorite movie, but I love my cat more.

My husband was not happy when I brought her home; he was gone to drill with his Guard unit when I did. Over the years, he has come to love and appreciate Buttercup. She is getting on up there in years and I think we all are starting to realize she won’t be here forever. My youngest son, Sammy, was only one year old when Buttercup came into our home, so she has always been a part of his life. He and his older brother used to light-hardheartedly “torture” her by putting her in laundry baskets and carrying her around the house. I’ll never forget the time that little three-year-old Sammy came to me, with big, frightened eyes, saying, “I didn’t do it, Mommy!” only to find Buttercup in the refrigerator, pawing at the lunch meat, excited about her luck at being given full-access to such a smorgasbord. To this day, we call long pajamas with covered feet “safety suits,” after the boys said, years ago, that Buttercup couldn’t scratch them when they were wearing their safety suit pjs.

My Princess Buttercup, AKA Thundercleese, Earth Destroyer

I get mad when I come home and find her lying on my laptop. I get aggravated when I have to crawl under my bed to clean up her hairballs. I still have the scar on my ear from when she knocked over a night stand lamp in the middle of the night, frightening herself so badly that she jumped and used my face as a launching pad, clawing me from my right eye to my right ear. I would never trade any of this for not having my sweet kitty, Princess Buttercup, in my life.

As I look at her, lying in one of several beds she has around the house that were originally intended for the dog but claimed by her, I know that whenever she comes to me with her “maow maow” talk, all I can say to her is “As you wish!”

Give Geeks a Chance

Even Boba Fett Needs Friends, Image: Kristen Catalano

Not every person that calls themselves a Nerd or a Geek has been an outcast. We weren’t all the last one picked for the team in gym or the only one without a date to the big dance. We didn’t all wear thick black glasses held together with tape, or play video games, or read comics, or play DnD. But, for most of us, there has been a moment when we didn’t quite fit in with everyone else.

It might have happened during a show of enthusiasm for something we love. Plenty of people like Star Wars, but get too excited, chatter too much about how you and your friends cheered when the opening credits rolled, and you’ve outed yourself as a geek. Adults will give you a funny look then quickly check themselves (as you check your enthusiasm) and move on to a safer topic. Kids, well, we all know how unkind kids can be to one another.

I’ve learned to ignore the funny look when it’s cast in my direction. Go ahead and laugh as I wax poetic about the Millennium Falcon or the crush I had on Dirk Benedict when he was Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica. Roll your eyes when I say my favorite toys were action figures, especially the Spock with a little button on his back that made his fingers split into the Vulcan greeting.

Popeye had it right. I am what I am.

One of the most difficult parts of being a geek, though, is not dealing with the people who don’t get you, but finding the people who do. It’s hard to open up and let someone see who you are with the hope of discovering a kindred soul. There’s no guarantee you won’t get that funny look, although we all hope beyond hope that we’ll get a smile of understanding instead.

We’ve all taken that risk and as a result we have friends we’d otherwise never have met. It’s scary, but it’s worth it. But what if we hadn’t been given the chance? What if you walked in to that room full of cosplayers, or Browncoats, or gamers and they’d all snubbed their noses and not given you a chance to fit in? It’s one thing to be snubbed by everyday people, but it’s entirely different when they’re people just like you.

So the next time you’re hanging out with your friends at a convention, or a movie, or a comic store, and someone tries to join your conversation, remember, they’re taking a risk. You have the choice of giving them a chance or snubbing them because you have the upper hand. Remember though, you wouldn’t be standing their with your circle friends if they hadn’t once upon a time taken a chance on you.

Is Geek A Derogatory Term?

Geeking it up before the Dragon*Con 2011 Parade

Since I’m still coming down from the high that is Dragon*Con, I’ve been looking in Flickr for pictures of myself and reading articles about the Con.

I came across a post about the Dragon*Con parade and I started reading the comments. There were several comments that jumped out as me as some people seemed to think that the term “geek” was a bad one and didn’t want to be labeled that way.

Since this is GeekMom, we embrace the fact that we are geeks. But I think most geeks can remember a time in their lives when it wasn’t cool to be a geek.

For me, I was teased a lot in school. Some of the teasing was strange, since I was teased for being short which isn’t something I could control. But I was also teased for being a geek.

I didn’t hide my geekdom at all when I was young. I actually embraced it as I had a picture of the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation in my high school locker. As I got into my later years in high school I basically thought, “Screw it. I can find geeky friends in college.” And I did, which make my college experience all that much more fulfilling.

I’m proud to be a Geek and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I didn’t think it was a bad label even when I was teased for it. As a mom now, I do worry that my daughter will be teased when she gets to school age since she already has geeky interests. But I do hope that she will find her own way, geek or not.

What do you all think about the term, Geek? Do you use it to refer to yourself or do you think is a derogatory term that shouldn’t be used?


Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s RPG Line of Perfume Oils

Image: Mandy Horetski

Ever wonder what a Chaotic Gnome Mage smelled like? The perfume oil company, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, has answered that question with their line of RPG scents.

I’ve been a fan of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL) for years. I was never able to wear regular perfume because it all smelled the same to me and made me sneeze. But BPAL was different. I was given an imp (which means sample in BPAL talk) of Hamadryad and I was hooked.

So when there was news of a RPG line of oils, I was really excited. I knew that Beth Barrial, who is the genius behind the BPAL perfumes, was a geek so I knew she would do a great job with this new line. With all BPAL perfumes, these are perfume oils that can morph and change due to the wearer’s skin chemistry. When people review BPAL perfumes they usually smell the oil straight from the bottle and then try it on their skin.

I was able to get the original set and smelled my way through them. There are the standard races, classes and alignments that you find in games such as Dungeons and Dragons.  I was a little afraid I wasn’t going to like Chaotic, since I am Chaos Mandy, but it turned out to be great on me.

I’m not the best at picking out the different layers in BPAL perfume, but here are my impressions of the BPAL RPG Line.

Dwarf – In the bottle, Dwarf had a slightly fruity scent that was underneath the smell of leather. On my skin the leather smell came out more.

Elf – This one had a strong amber scent in the bottle, but on my skin there was an undertone of fruit with the amber.

Half-Elf – Straight from the bottle, Half-Elf had a strong smell of sandalwood with just a hint of white tea leaf. On my skin, I lost the white tea leaf and it just smelled like sandalwood.

Halfling – This was the most foody of all the RPG line. It smelled like a nutty pastry in the bottle, with the pastry coming out more on my skin.

Gnome – The layers on Gnome are complex and hard to pick out. It smelled almost mechanical with a sweet smell over top in the bottle. On my skin the sweet came out even more and it was almost overpowering.

Orc – Both in the bottle and on my skin, Orc smelled of vetiver to the point that it was a little overpowering.

Ranger – This was a very patchouli scent, both in the bottle and on my skin. I’ve had issues in the past with other oils that had patchouli in it where all I can smell is the patchouli.

Mage – I couldn’t pick out any of the notes that are in Mage. Both in the bottle and on my skin it just smelled like perfume. It was a little disappointing since Mage is my favorite class, but the perfume didn’t really work for me.

Fighter – In the bottle, the wonderful leather smell was the most powerful. On my skin, it was still very leather but there was a lovely undertone of musk.

Cleric – This was floral in the bottle but not too bad, as it didn’t make me sneeze. Usually florals and I don’t get along but Cleric was actually rather nice. On my skin, it got better as there was a woodsy smell to the florals.

Paladin – In the bottle, Paladin is very light and clean. There is also a hint of vanilla underneath. On my skin, the vanilla all but disappeared.

Rogue – In the bottle, Rogue is equally the smell of hemp and leather. On my skin, the hemp came more forward with leather being the underneath scent.

Good – This one is very musky in the bottle with that scent coming out even more on my skin.

Neutral – Another one that is a musk and I really can’t tell the difference between musks. Though the musk is muted on my skin than it was in the bottle.

Chaotic – In the bottle, Chaotic is a woodsy musk that reminded me a bit of my first BPAL love, Hamadryad. On my skin, it is muted with a hint of a nut smell coming out.

Lawful – This smelled like woods and berries in the bottle. It was much the same on my skin, though muted somewhat.

Evil – In the bottle, Evil smelled like green tea to me. On my skin, it became more complex with a hint of tar coming through.

The BPAL RPG line is currently available at the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab website. It’s a great addition to the wonderful line of perfume oils and really appeals to any geek who has played a RPG before.

Note: I received a copy of these perfume oils for review purposes.


In Defense of JCPenney: Too Pretty to Do Homework

Too Pretty to Do Homework Shirt from JCPenney

I know I am supposed to be outraged with JCPenney for “The Shirt” which they pulled from their online store yesterday. I have two little girls. I see the kind of stuff that their friends wear and often shake my head and wonder what their moms were thinking when they agreed to let their daughters dress like dime-a-dance girls. I understand the frustration at seeing girls pushed down a stereotypical path from the time they wear that first pink onesie. I get it, really I do, but I also don’t think a tee shirt with a funny saying is going to send my girls on a downward spiral ending with them dropping out of school in favor of beauty queen dreams.

This shirt is targeted squarely at my daughters’ age group. I am the mom who might be faced with buying this shirt. Since my kids don’t have brothers they probably wouldn’t ask for it, but if they did have a brother, and they wanted this shirt, and it was within my carefully honed back-to-school budget, then I would let them take it home.

Am I insane? Am I a horrible mother? Am I caving to the media and corporate evil-doers bent on turning my child into a vapid airhead who cares more about lipstick than grades? I’m sure some people will say yes, but I know myself and I know my girls and nothing could be further from the truth.

I spend a lot of time talking with my kids, really talking, and encouraging them to make positive choices and smart decisions. I teach them to do the right thing, to stand up for themselves and their friends, and to be confident and proud.  I am, after all, a geek raising two little geek girls.  I have faced no small amount of attitude from people who think I’m odd and surely at some point they will, too. I want them to be certain enough of themselves that what a person (or shirt) says doesn’t define their self-worth.

And although I let them make their own decisions as much as possible, I am the Mom so I do steer them when they’re headed in the wrong direction. Me. The Mom. Not JCPenney.  I have enough confidence in my kids to know that they won’t be swayed by silly sayings on a tee shirt. It might make them laugh, but it won’t mark their moral decline.

I don’t think anybody, including the folks at JCPenney, believes that girls are too pretty to do their own homework or that they should force their brothers into servitude.  I doubt there are any kids that think so, either.  I would bet though, that there are more than a few girls that hate homework, argue with their brothers, and would like nothing more than to sit and relax while those brothers did their homework. Too pretty? Of course it’s ridiculous.  The whole premise is ridiculous which is what makes the shirt funny, not the harbinger of doom for little girls everywhere.


Tips for Dating Geeks

GeekMom Chaos Mandy and her date (now her husband)

Who knew dating a geek could be so confusing or controversial? GeekMom Ruth‘s post concerning Alyssa Bereznak’s online rant about her date with Jon Finkel, was just the tip of the iceberg. I’d bet every geek out there has had to deal with an “Alyssa” from time to time in the awkwardness of dating, mind you few of those experiences are made public on a blog.

Geek is a very broad term and really only means that someone is passionately involved with something. Geeks come in all shapes and sizes and their interests are incredibly diverse, just ask Scott Johnson the creator of The 56 Geek Project.

It got me thinking, what advice would I give my children if they ever found themselves dating a person they didn’t understand? Conversation on a first date can be excruciating, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little insight into the interests of the person across the table? Sometimes breaking the ice is all it takes to get a geek to break out of their shell and become comfortable with the situation they are in.

So here it is, a primer. Tips for dating the:

  • Astrophysics Geek: When units are measured in lightyears and parsecs, pi equals 3.
  • Trek Geek: Kirk or Picard? You must have an answer, it will come up and its important.
  • Jedi Geek: Han shot first.
  • Apple Geek: Its release is purely speculative, no one knows what it will actually look like, no one knows what it will actually do, but its been pre-ordered.
  • Engineering Geek: Duct tape can fix everything, and yes they have it with them.
  • Food Geek: Do not ask for steak sauce with your $100 steak.
  • Hitchhikers Guide Geek: 42 is the answer.
  • Linux Geek: That source could be a little more open.
  • Board Gaming Geek: No, you can’t put your stuff in their trunk, its full of games.
  • Physics Geek: A cow is simply a series of spheres.
  • Doctor Who Geek: Bow ties  are cool.
  • Conspiracy Geek: Gas prices too high? Global Warming? Fluorinated Water? Burnt the toast? All the Illuminati.
  • Electronics Geek: If you just add one component to that clock it could also bake bread.
  • Simpsons Geek: They are so smart, S-M-R-T, I mean S-M-A-R-T.
  • Photography Geek: Yes thats a camera in their pocket, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t happy to see you as well.

Mind you this is an incredibly short list of the possible geeky realms, only the ones that I (and my husband GeekDad Brian McLaughlin) are personally familiar with.

If you are a geek, what one tidbit would be imperative to getting to know you?

Almost Time for Dragon*Con!

Me at Dragon*Con 2008 when I was 8 months pregnant

If you listened to the latest GeekMom podcast, you will have heard that I’m very excited for Dragon*Con. There is less than two weeks left until the con, so my mind is focused on getting ready for the most fun weekend of the year for me.

Because I’m a mom of a toddler, my Dragon*Con experience is a little different than most. My husband and I stay off site at a relative’s house, who watch our daughter while my husband and I are at the con.

We take MARTA, which is the train and bus system in Atlanta, because it is so easy as there is a stop right outside of the con. This does mean that we can’t do a lot of late night stuff because the train stops running at 1 am, but staying off site makes Dragon*Con very affordable for us.

Dragon*Con is one of the biggest conventions in the US. I think only San Diego Comic Con is bigger. But this is my 5th year attending, so I’m pretty well versed on how to get the most out of my Dragon*Con experience. There are some things that are just happening this year that I’m excited for.

On Friday night, there is going to be a Masked Ball in honor of the fact that this is the 25th year of Dragon*Con. Then on Sunday is the wrap party for Browncoats: Redemption, which is a fan film based in the Firefly universe. I’m pretty excited for both of these events.

Who else is going to Dragon*Con?


GeekMom Secret Origins: Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin aka Total Fan Girl

The idea that I get to write a post about my “Secret Origins” makes me ridiculously happy.  I debated telling everyone I was bitten by a radioactive squirrel or some-such, but that would be embellishing the truth.  Only slightly though, as I was almost bitten by a very angry squirrel when I was a kid.  He got stuck in the birdseed container and I reached in to scoop some seed out and nearly lost my life.  Really.  It was extremely dramatic and my girlie scream was completely warranted.  But I suppose a little truth is called for, at least from a certain point of view.

Long before I was a GeekMom, I was a little Geek Girl.  I credit this entirely to my Dad who was a huge fan of science fiction and a complete Nerd.  He had those horribly thick black-framed glasses that everyone used to wear, read science fiction and horror, and watched cheesy monster movies with me on Saturday afternoons.  I even have a picture of him in plaid shorts with black socks and sandals.  See, I didn’t stand a chance.

I cut my teeth on movies like Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars and even won a contest for my Princess Leia costume when I was in grade school.  My toy box wasn’t full of Barbie dolls, but action figures of Han and Starbuck along with their ships and a Bionic Man doll that had a special table for installing his bionics.

In school, when it came time for those dreaded oral book reports, my Dad suggested science fiction classics.  I remember reading “I, Robot” in sixth grade and then giving an oral report to a class full of kids that just didn’t get how cool the Three Laws of Robotics were no matter how hard  I tried to explain.  I put it down to them not knowing any better, which was probably accurate.  Not many kids were in to Asimov or Heinlein or Bradbury in middle school.

That early introduction to science fiction led to a life-long love of all things sci-fi.  I went to movies that only “the guys” wanted to see and eventually found my way to asking one guy out on a date.  We hit it off and the very next day we went on our second date, to the Boston Museum of Science.  Yup, it was a geek love story that eventually led to us getting married and having two adorable little girls who are building me gardens in Viva Pinata as I write this post.  Hubby is an Aerospace and Ocean Engineer so I’m hoping he will one day build me a spaceship for real.

I’ve always enjoyed writing and took the leap into blogging a few years back with my own blog,  Total Fan Girl.  I also host a segment of the same name on The D6 Generation gaming podcast and am thrilled to be writing for GeekMom and co-hosting the brand new GeekMoms Podcast!

So, that’s my origins story.  Geek Dad raises little Geek Girl, who in turn marries Geek Boy and has Geek Girls of her own.  It might not be as exciting as the radioactive squirrel angle, but I wouldn’t trade it for all the superpowers in the world.

San Diego Comic-Con: Thank You Cosplayers!

The Mad Hatter

If there’s one thing that’s universally true about fan conventions, it’s that there will be cosplay. In the case of San Diego, many people who are packing away this year’s costume as I write are also planning next year’s costume in their heads. Serious cosplayers don’t just raid the local costume shop at Halloween. They painstakingly search through fabrics to get just the right texture and weight to recreate the looks of their favorite heros. It doesn’t even have to be heros, or re-creations for that matter. Cosplayers come up with infinite variations of familiar themes and those are often the most amazing costumes you’ll see.

Little Lady Vader

Although most of the people in costume are adults, there are always a few kids in the mix.  I can never decide what’s cuter, a little one who has thought up her own costume and is proudly walking along with her normally dressed family, or the parents and kids that are dressed alike.  This year I saw whole families of Klingons, Star Fleet personnel, Stormtoopers and even pirates wandering the vendor hall.

Princess Leia and Han Solo with attitude

One of my favorite things to do at a con is take pictures of all these people. They’re always happy to stop and pose, and sometimes they even throw in a little attitude. A cocky Han Solo is just so much more fun than one who simply smiles, and you haven’t really lived until you sass Darth Vader and he tries to Force-choke you. It’s as fun for me as it is for them because they like being recognized and I like seeing characters from my favorite television shows, movies and comics come to life.

Torchwood: Captains John Hart and Jack Harkness

The one thing that impresses me most is that these people aren’t being paid to add to the convention atmosphere.  They’re doing it just because it’s a fun tribute to the things they love.  When I snap a photo it’s  partly for me, so I can show friends at home and look back and remember the fun of the convention, but they’re also for the cosplayer.  It’s not like there’s a tip jar where I can throw them a few dollars as appreciation.  The best way I can say thank you is to stop them and snap a picture in recognition of their hard work.  So, to all the cosplayers at San Diego this year, thank you.  Thank you for taking the time and making the effort.  The con is so much more than it could ever be without you!


Princess Leia And The Force

Princess Leia Cupcake by

I am definitely a Star Wars junkie. It started when I was seven and saw the first movie in theaters with my Dad. He’d actually seen it once already just to make sure it wasn’t too scary, and he made me close my eyes when Obi-Wan lopped off Ponda Baba’s arm in the Mos Eisley Cantina. It was years before I actually saw that scene, and let me tell you, what I imagined in my little head was far more gruesome than what was actually shown on screen. Never underestimate the power of a seven-year-old’s imagination.

I desperately wanted to be Princess Leia that Halloween, but we could not find a costume. This was before the movie marketing juggernauts of today, so my Mom made what would be my favorite costume ever. It was a robe-like dress with white vinyl boots and had the coolest belt covered with glittery silver fabric. The best part, though, was a brown wig with loops of yarn perfectly arranged into those famous cinnabuns. I was so rockin’ the cosplay!

Sadly, my cool Leia wig and costume have been lost to the ravages of time, but my love of Star Wars remains. I have the requisite lightsabers and have nearly broken light fixtures with them more times than I can count. My family is addicted to the Lego Star Wars games and I even had a Star Wars vanity plate on my car. (It was PODRCR on a Volkswagen Turbo Beetle.  If you can’t figure it out, shame!)

I don’t dress up for Halloween anymore, but I still want to be Princess Leia and use The Force so every time I approach automatic doors I ever so slightly raise my hand and will them to open. I’ve gotten my kids to do this once or twice at the grocery store and if we time it just right we are the perfect Jedi family.

This weekend I used The Force on the super-fast doors at the entrance to the subway station. It worked perfectly on the way in, but on the way out, my powers were apparently weakened and halfway through the doors they closed. That’s right, my arm was nearly lopped off just like Ponda Baba’s. Thankfully, the doors were not as sharp as a lightsaber and my arm is still attached to my body. Next time, though, I’ll be a bit more cautious. Jedi Master, I am not….yet.

In Praise of Cosplay

Boba Fett
Boba Fett at New York Comic Con

Summer is here and that means that convention season is in full swing. From San Diego Comic-Con, to Gen Con, to Dragon*Con, not to mention the myriad smaller local cons that will happen over the next few months. In addition to making sure you have a pass and a hotel and the cheapest flight humanly possible, even if it means you have a four hour layover in the middle of nowhere, you also have to think long and hard about what you’re going to wear.

You’ll be on your feet, walking around all day, so you need comfy shoes. This is also the time to break out your favorite geek t-shirts since nearly everyone you pass will actually get what “Han Shot First” means for a change. But, the biggest decision many con-goers will make is what sort of cosplay outfit they’ll show off this year.

Now, I have to admit that I’ve never done cosplay at a convention. I’ve dressed up like Zoe from Firefly at Halloween and I’ve played the buxom wench at a few renfaires, but that’s as close as I’ve come to actual cosplay. Those are costumes I’ve thrown together in a matter of hours, but that is definitely not the case for most convention cosplayers. I am always impressed at the level of detail their costumes possess, from the fabric to the shoes to the accessories. These folks don’t generally put their costumes together in a day, but more likely over the course of several months.

Cosplayers at PAX East

I love taking pictures of all these very creative and dedicated fans and am dismayed when I hear them fall under some derision for their choice to dress up like Spider-Man or Slave Leia. They’re seen as just wanting lots of attention, or even as fake fans who don’t really know the first things about they characters they’ve chosen to portray. In my experience, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cosplayers adore the characters they work so hard to emulate. They spend lots of time and lots of money trying to make everything look just right. I’m sure there are some that do it just for the attention, but there are so many more who do it for the the love of the characters they adore.

And it’s for those people, the truly devoted fans who want to be a Stormtrooper, or Dr. Who, or Wonder Woman for a day that we owe a word of thanks. How much less fun would the con experience be without them? They happily pose for pictures after wandering around in armor, carrying axes, or in ridiculously high heels. No one pays them to do what they do, they just do it. I’m thrilled when I see a well-done costume, especially one that’s not done often and I have been know to run after people just to snap a shot of their handiwork. So, next time you’re at a convention, don’t laugh and question the motives of these dedicated fans. Walk up, take a picture with them, and be sure to say thanks for making the convention a bit more fun.

Geek Chic Wedding Dresses

Photo via Flickr user SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget under Creative Commons

Ah, wedding gowns. The chance for brides to shine in white satin or peau de soie. Of course, that’s the pedestrian choice. Those with a geekier (or more frugal) bent might choose a less expensive alternative. Say, toilet paper.

Creative brides who have participated in the Cheap Chic Weddings Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest have crafted gowns in styles to rival the designer garb commonly seen in bridal magazines. From flirty to floral and fabulous, these gowns have everything a traditional gown offers – many even include a train or a bustle – except the price.

I can’t imagine spending an entire day in a dress made of toilet paper, but the folds, ruffles, flowers, and other details on these dresses are really stunning. Some dresses even come with accessories, like this gorgeous hat.

But what if you’re not going for the virginal white look? Not to worry. March down the aisle in geek chic fashion with a vividly colored dress crafted from materials found in your recycle bin. Hello, gorgeous!

wedding gown, repurposing, recycling, envrionment,
Photo: Christopher Sims/OneRedEye, used with permission


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Geek Flair Contest Winners

Congratulations to our Geek Flair Contest Winners!

Homa: I have a button that says “I have issues” that I bought as a kid thinking it referenced comic book issues. I’d like to see one that said the same but with a font or style that made the association clearer. :)

SpookyGirl: When in doubt, side with science!!

(would work well when I am at a homeschool function arguing with other more religious orientated homeschoolers, LOL!)

Rosalind: These are awesome.

I would like “Oops! My geek is showing!”
I think I’ve used that as a twitter tag before.

I also adore random DnD references, so a “+3Charisma” pin would be fun too!

Good job everyone who suggested some awesome Geek Flair. Winners were chosen by random drawing and will soon be contacted individually for shipping information. Thanks so much for reading GeekMom!

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Feeling at Home as a Geek

Image: Mandy Horetski

During most of my normal life, I don’t really get the chance to geek out very much. My life usually revolves around my toddler, husband, school, work, housework and other rather mundane things.

But recently I was able to. I attended ConCarolinas and I got the overwhelming feeling of belonging. It is great to be in a hotel with hundreds of other fellow geeks.

Also, in the course of normal life, most moms don’t get to dress up in costumes. I love costumes, and it’s one of the best things, in my opinion, about going to cons. I wore my Kaylee Layer Cake costume from Firefly and nearly everyone knew who I was supposed to be. I also got a lot of compliments on it which made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

The highlight of the con, for me, was the Buffy / Dr. Horrible sing-along. We watch the Buffy episode, Once More With Feeling, followed by Dr. Horrible. And yes, nearly everyone sang along with both shows. It was great to be in a packed room full of people who love these shows as much as I do.

As I left the con, I had big smile on my face. It’s really great to be able to connect with other people with similar interests and really feel at home with my geekiness. I think this is one of the biggest reasons I love going to cons.

Where do you feel most at home being a geek?

My Ren Faire-Themed Wedding

My husband and I outside our wedding reception (Image: Mandy Horetski)

There are many geeky themes you could have for your wedding. Ren Faire was the theme my husband and I chose for our wedding, which was nearly 5 years ago.

My husband, Todd, and I had been dating for nearly two years when he proposed to me on my birthday. Once the euphoria of being newly engaged wore off, we got down to planning.

I always knew I wanted a wedding in the Fall, but I also wanted some sort of theme to express who we were. I was trying to think of a theme, when Todd suggested a Ren Faire theme.

I thought it was a great idea, but I wanted a traditional wedding dress so we explained our theme as ‘Ren Faire without the costumes’. I did get myself and my attendants cloaks to wear at the reception along with a crown and royal cloak for Todd. This allowed us to enter our reception as the King and Queen.

Since we got married at the end of September, I wanted to try an incorporate Autumn into our theme as well. I got fake pumpkins that you can carve  and carved out castles and axes to match our theme. I also made our favors, which were little chocolate castles in our wedding colors of green and purple.

A Royal Cake (Image: Mandy Horetski)

I also made felt banners for the walls of our reception hall with dragons and castles on them. Todd actually helped a lot with those since I can’t cut very straight.

The best part of our reception was our cake. I really wanted a Castle cake, but most bakers don’t make them. A relative recommended a cake shop and they had castle cakes! It looked really good and it tasted wonderful as well.

Our wedding was very lovely and we got a lot of compliments on the decor. It was a lot of work since most of it was ‘do it yourself’ but it turned out very well.

Juggling Being A Mom While Keeping Your Own Identity

Image: Mandy Horetski

Being a mom is hard, but sometimes retaining your identity as a person can be harder.

As soon as I found out I was going to have a baby, I wanted to be the best mom I could be. But I also wanted to retain who I was as a person.

I’ve been a geek all my life, and I really wanted to retain that part of me after I became a mom. I’ve managed to do so, but I never realized how hard it was going to be.

My days are now mostly focused on my toddler, and I find that I watch more  cartoons than sci-fi shows (though I am currently trying to watch my way through Battlestar Galactica). Some days I struggle to remember that I’m a Mandy person and not just a Mandy Mom.

Yesterday, I got to go to a local con without my toddler and then I got to go to a going away party without my toddler, and it was awesome! It’s really something I haven’t done a long time and it reminded me that I really do need breaks away from my child.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom. But it was really nice to get out of the house and not have to worry what mischief my daughter is getting into, or worrying about leaving because she’s tired.

What do you do to get a break from your kids?

Juggling And Balancing On The Tightrope


We all know them. The moms who seem to be always doing. Whether they are balancing a chequebook in one hand whilst nursing a babe in the same arm, simultaneously talking on the telephone with the other hand to schedule a playdate for the other sibling, all the while going through the grocery list in their mind. Or the mom who is busy jumping from soccer practice to dance classes to Parent Advisory Committee meetings whilst preparing the agenda for tomorrow’s big meeting. We look at them and think, “Dear FSM, woman! How do you find the time for it all!?” I have a confession to make. I am one of those women. I’ll admit, I often find that I’m asking myself the exact same question.

I’m new here. I suppose that is pretty obvious. Let me give you a very brief snapshot into all that I do. First, I’m a mom of two wonderful boys. My oldest will be sixteen in September. My youngest will be twelve on April 16. I would describe my oldest as a nerd and I would describe my youngest as a geek/gamer. Our home consists of a 24 hour nerdfest.

My educational background is in Psychology. I had planned to eventually get my PhD, specializing in abnormal psychology of children and adolescence, but then life threw me a huge curve-ball which goes by the name of Lupus, causing me to have a hysterectomy at 29 and a full-blown left-sided stroke at 30. I had to build my career doing things that I could do from home.

Roughly three years ago, a job opportunity crossed my eyes. I saw an advert for internet radio personalities. The job was remote with no previous experience necessary. Having acted and danced on stage for many years and with a passion for entertaining, I knew I would be perfect for the job. Despite the fear that my application would never see another person’s eyes, I applied. Within five hours of sending my application, I received an interview request. The rest is, as they say, history. But what is this history?

Shortly after being hired as an on-air personality, I was promoted to programming director. Eventually, I would also hold the title of assistant general manager. Among my various radio shows, I began a radio show known as the Geeky Pleasures Radio Show. After she launched, I had the awesome opportunity to interview Wil Wheaton, Bad Astronomer Phil Plait PhD, Shane Nickerson (MTV executive producer), Jonathan Coulton, Runic Games and musician Mike Lombardo. I had a personal blog on Blogspot, however my radio show became so popular that I had to launch my Geeky Pleasures website and a separate personal blog. Eventually, I had to step away from my position at that radio station. However, my Geeky Pleasures website and personal blog continued on.

I had it in my mind that running a website that requires updating at least three times a day, Monday – Friday, plus a personal blog, plus raising two children on my own, was not enough to keep me busy. So I launched the Lupus Awareness Virtual Art Gallery. Because of my work to raise lupus awareness, I was asked to interview Patrizia Hernandez, the lead actress in Love Simple, and John Casey, producer of Love Simple. I was later asked if I would write for The Lupus Magazine and I accepted.

But still in my mind, I was not busy enough. I would later be asked to contribute to Star Wars vs Star Trek and NerdsInBabeland. Still not enough to do, I volunteered my time as the layout and design editor of The Vaccine Times. One would think that would be enough, right? Wrong. Late last year, I was asked to help build another internet radio station and I agreed. That radio station would become The Force 925, where all my old radio shows, including the Geeky Pleasures Radio Show and frequent co-host of a political talk-show, would find a new home.

Since launching at the beginning of his year, I’ve had the opportunity to interview: musician Jeff MacDougall; Paul and Storm; GeekDad and musician John Anealio; Len Peralta of GeekAWeek fame; Lauren Crace and Sylvester McCoy; and New York Times best selling author Steve Hockensmith. Scheduled to appear in the coming weeks are 101010 Productions and Richard Hatch of The Apollo Awards, plus Maurissa Tancharoen-Whedon. You’d think that would be enough, but here I am at GeekMom.

In my spare time, I do a lot of crafting and creating in more ways than I think I can currently list. I also found time to write two books whilst doing all of the above.

It is no wonder that many, including myself, ask me how do I manage it all, whilst raising two boys on my own and dealing with a disease that likes to attempt to royally kick my behind. I think the easy and lazy answer is to say: It is just like having children. The more that you have, they tend to keep each other busy and occupied. It is nothing for me to be updating one website while I have the dashboard of another open, editing and updating them simultaneously. Plus with Twitter, it is easy to find material as most of my content inspiration comes from there. However, a great deal of it comes down to planning, organizational skills and scheduling. The first four hours of my day are busy spent receiving press releases, deciding what I’ll post, making a list of updates which need to be made to other sites and taking a break whenever my body demands it. I also remember to take a lot of time to breathe. Many of us forget to do that.

If I did not have the luxury to work from home, none of this would be possible. Once my posts are scheduled on any given day, then I am free to fart around for the rest of it, surfing the internet for inspiration, chatting with my tweeps, interviewing new personalities for the station and training them, doing my radio shows, thinking about the articles I will write for projects that I am not personally responsible to maintain, nerding out with my children whilst they are busy playing WoW, watching Doctor Who, or asking me some question about astrophysics and what would happen if they jimmied open the microwave in such a fashion that it is fooled into thinking it is closed and turning it on. It also helps that the Geeky Pleasures website and the radio station are the only things that must be done daily. The Vaccine Times is a quarterly print publication, NiB and SWvsST is when I have time, The Lupus Magazine is once a month, health and life willing. Writing here is also casual for the time being.

In the end it is a careful juggling act whilst balancing and walking a tightrope. The smallest misstep and I drop my balls. Thankfully, they are picked up easily enough and the world will not end if I have to stop for a day or two or ten. However, being an extreme overachiever, it is difficult to stop.

If you think I’m busy, I know many other moms who do far more than I. Maybe we are all a wee bit insane in some way. Perhaps this comes with the territory when one is a geek, especially if one is creative.

So let me ask you, how do you mange to juggle family and career? What are some of your tips?

Introducing Geek Life!

Starting next week, both GeekDad and GeekMom will be running a brand new webcomic called Geek Life. It will be drawn by Bob Boyle, who does Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! on Nick Jr. Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! has been a big favorite of my kids since it began. Bob also put out a book in 2010 called Hugo and the Really, Really, Really Long String. Bob has even won an Emmy!

As appropriate for our geeky parenting blogs, the comic has an all geek cast: dad John, mom Jenny (!), son Otto, and even a frog named Mort. You will recognize many geeky interests from the excellent promo video. I highly recommend you embiggen and watch the video full screen. You’ll catch more of the jokes that way. (Then your second time through, pause at each screen to catch the rest of the geektasticness.) You may even find yourself singing the Geek Life theme song throughout the day, just as I have (Bob and Brad Mossman do make the most excellent songs together):

Geek Life will run at both GeekMom and GeekDad, usually twice per week, but occasionally five days per week for longer story arcs. It will also run on the Geek Life website, where you can get more information about the strip and Bob’s other projects. Also Geek Life’s mom will be writing actual blog entries at!

We are very proud to be featuring Bob Boyle’s new webcomic. Geek Life will start running on Monday, February 28th, so stay tuned for plenty of geeky family fun!

For more information on Bob Boyle and his other work, please also visit his website. And his YouTube channel. He and Brad Mossman even wrote a song about NPR!

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CABIN FEVER: How to Play “Spot the Geek” (Classic Movie Edition)

Film images L to R: 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Liberty Films, Cineguild. Mashup: Kate Miller

Recently my family endured a week of cabin fever brought on by snow, weblessness, and our general proximity to one another. We survived by watching movies together each night after dinner, but were limited to our rental cabin’s movie collection. This included only dusty classics that every adult Homo Sapien has seen at least fourteen times. The movies were on “videotapes,” which we played in a big machine called a “VCR.”

The films we saw were made long before high-tech gadgetry, Dungeons & Dragons, or the rise of nerdy-cool. The word “geek” had not even arrived to brighten our world. Yet as I watched each movie, a proto-geeky character emerged, someone who embodied a certain early, nascent geekness.

(For all you definition hawks out there: I take a geek to be a smart person with an intense interest in something — as opposed to a nerd, who may have more trouble with social interaction. Here, this Venn diagram explains the whole thing. Come on back when you’re done.)

So without further ado, I present you with the four great classic films that we watched, along with my votes for their ur-geeky characters.

The Sound of Music, 1965

This one’s easy: Max Detweiler is the geek. He’s that friend of Herr von Trapp and the Countess, always ready with a bon mot and an impeccable suit. He’s also the one obsessed with his music festival and on the lookout for new acts. If he existed today, he’d be a gigantic Gleek.

Through most of the film Max cares more about putting on a fabulous show than about the recent Nazi occupation of Austria. Now that’s some impressively geeky singlemindedness. But in the end of course, he wields said fabulous show to thwart the Nazis, proving that geekiness can be a great tool for any underground resistance.

(My husband interjects that Max is also the prototype of the Swishy Gay Friend. Food for thought.)

Great Expectations, 1946 (David Lean version)

If geekiness is part obsessional interest, then Miss Havisham is our 19th century gal. Perhaps you remember this nutty old bat. Jilted at the alter as a young woman, she avoids her pain by freezing time. She stops the clocks, boards up the windows, and remains in her wedding dress, sitting beside the still-set wedding dinner table for, oh, about fifty years. At the start of the movie she’s absolutely ancient, surrounded by ancient cobwebs and ancient cobwebby servants.

“That’s not geeky,” I hear you cry, “that’s downright insane. She’s several cards short of a Pokemon deck.” OK, good point.

But hear me out. Think of how singlemindedly Miss Havisham focuses on that one day! She’s had no visitors, no news from the outside, for decades. If anyone wanted to get accurate historical information about that day –What were people wearing? What were the headlines? – she’d be the undisputed go-to geek. She is to her own wedding day what a Civil War geek is to the battle of Antietam. I rest my case.

To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962

You may be thinking that the geek here is Boo Radley, the reclusive neighbor of Scout, the little girl who narrates. But friends, do not be fooled!

The geek is none other than Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, played by Gregory Peck. Oh, Atticus makes me swoon. Really, if that guy stepped out of the movie and proposed to me, I would have to disappoint my husband brutally. (Sorry, honey. The truth hurts.)

Atticus is smart and tall, and has the geekiest glasses possible for the Depression-era deep South. But what really clinches his status is his obsessional interest in justice. He is – dare I say – a justice geek. He puts himself and his kids at risk of life and limb to pursue his fight against intolerance, which he wages with his quiet, firm, intelligent, decent ways. Oh my. I’m getting all worked up again.

It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946

This one is verrrrry tricky.

Could the geek be protagonist George Bailey, who is second in my heart only to Atticus Finch? (Sorry again, honey.) George certainly has his interest — traveling the world — but isn’t too obsessive about it, distracted as he is by little things like love, marriage and fatherhood. No, not so geeky.

I sifted through the movie’s truckload of characters: Mary Bailey, Uncle Billy, Mr. Potter, little Zuzu, and all the others with whom director Frank Capra viciously manipulates us into feeling a deep love for humanity. None of them are geeky. Could it be that Wonderful Life is geek-free?

Then it hit me. I’m the geek. I’m the one absentmindedly reciting each line along with the movie, down to the syllable. I’m the one who in high school painstakingly transcribed all of George’s speeches from the VCR (“The moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair…”) and affixed them to my bedroom wall. I’m the one who still – still! – sobs uncontrollably at the end. Every. Damn. Time.

And I’m not alone. There are thousands of us Wonderful Life Kool-Aid chuggers, and I submit that each time one of us watches the movie again… well … we’re the geek.

Playing “Spot the Geek” is like discovering fossils of ancient creatures that turn out to be our ancestors. “Aha,” we geeks say, “so that’s where we came from.” The whole process is enriching, enlightening, and of course an exquisite waste of time.

Perhaps you’ve played this game with other classic films. What’s your vote? Citizen Kane, anyone? All about Eve, Gone with the Wind, Philadelphia Story?

A GeekMom Award for Jasper Fforde!

Close shot of Jasper Fforde
Author Jasper Fforde, 2006/7. Picture credit: Mari Fforde.

Is Jasper Fforde a geek? That’s still undecided (read his answer below). But he’s undoubtedly a mom !

Wait a minute, Jasper Fforde’s a man, how can he be a mum?
Well, he deserves to be. If there was such things as GeekMom Awards, he’d get one for sure.

For now, One of Our Thursdays Is Missing, which means we’re actually going to get a new Thursday, as the 6th issue of her adventures will be released on Marc, 8 (or February, 21 if you are British, lucky you!)

As part of this happy occasion, Jasper Fforde agreed to an interview with GeekMom.

As you’ll notice, he’s able to give smart answers even to silly questions (and I cut the silliest one… even if I have to recommend again the wonderful Entroposcope: any Geek Family should have one).

GeekMom : We’d like to thank you heartily in the name of every geek mom ! We were recently regretting the lack of strong mother characters in books we love, mothers who love their children, and care for them, but still had their own issues. And Thursday Next was the first name we came up with (on a very, very short list). Do you feel the same lack? Did you plan to make Thursday a mom from the beginning? And if not, did you consider to stop writing about her since she became a wife and mother? And if (still) not, did her motherhood change your vision of the character?

Jasper Fforde: Mothers, like teachers and librarians, are overlooked in fiction. It needn’t be so, but I can understand why: the sometimes dreary travails of motherhood just don’t make for very exciting reading. It needn’t be thus, as it is the writer’s job to be able to make drama out of anything.

One of the central tenets I tend to write by is ‘always choose the less worn path’.

It’s a simple statement and one that would have thought was fairly obvious, and embraced by many – but you might be mistaken. The well-worn path is well worn for a very good reason. If you have a strong female protagonist, the obvious route to deal with the personal side of her character (always important, like comedy relief, to get away from the main action for a breather ) is to introduce vast  quantities of unsuitable boyfriends, and have the loneliness and solitude as one of the facets that drives their character along. This happens a lot, and my reaction to this was, no, let’s have Thursday as a total one-guy gal, who finally kicks in with the love of her life in her mid-thirties and is with him from then on.

The question then remains is to how do we pepper her life with interest now she is in a stable and mutually respectful relationship? Infidelity? Too mundane. How about having Landen not just killed but eradicated by time travelling blackmailers attempting to get Thursday to do something she doesn’t want to do? Perfect. TN2 is essentially a book about a woman trying to get her husband back, and failing. It adds a level to her character that I really enjoy, and also set the tone for how we deal with Thursday and family throughout the series, and what sort of a guy Landen is – a rock, essentially, who understands and appreciates that his function is to support a wholly remarkable woman with no ego, no fuss, and no complaints.

The same ‘less trodden path’ deal came into being when the children arrived, too. They are kind of unusual, but it doesn’t stop Thursday being Thursday, nor Landen being Landen, and since I have many children of my own, it wasn’t a subject I was going to shy away with – I was just going to add my own way of looking at it. One of the themes in TN5 was ‘How can I engineer a plot device so that a teenager can save the world by doing nothing?’ There are many, many teenagers out there who think they can and are doing precisely that, and equally, a lot of parents who long for the day when the hairy object in bedroom three can once again talk. I wove this in with the plot, and it worked very well. She can do what she does and be a mother, and the two get very well.

Did her motherhood change her character? Not really. She was always very passionate about stuff, and now she had an extra dimension to be passionate about. I think you’d have to be very, very stupid to threaten Thursday’s children or husband – Goliath stay well away for that reason.

GeekMom: You seem to like science, incredible gadgets, use Star Wars parodic lines, feature a Lorem Ipsum’s speaking baby… and I don’t even talk about the amount of various references in your books.
So, do you consider a geek yourself? Are your books designed for geek readers?

Jasper Fforde: I’m interested in everything, as humans are fascinating creatures, with almost no end to their creativity, ingenuity, and stupidity. So I love all Stuff.

More recently, I’ve got into the Stuff of Stuff, which is far more interesting than just Stuff. I like Apple computers, but the whole background to Apple is equally amazing. Yes, Gaudi was an astonishing architect, but who were the people who had the foresight and vision to commission his work? The Stuff of Stuff.

The books are designed primarily for me. A writer should always write about what interests them. If they didn’t, I think they would come out all forced and a bit faux. If people didn’t share my mildly odd view of the world, then I’d still be a writer writing stuff, just unpublished.

GeekMom: As I’m also a literature teacher: when will I be able to come with groups of students into the BookWorld? Will they be allowed to follow Jurisfiction‘s affairs for a day? Which device could I use if I don’t want a Goliath one?

Jasper Fforde: I think we enter the Bookworld whenever we read a book. I’m not sure Jurisfiction much care for having Outlanders visit, nor for letting Outlanders know they exist. Many ‘SuperReaders’ try to hack their way into Text Grand Central, but few succeed – the surroundings are painted in soporific paint, so any hackers that do try to get in, immediately nod off.

GeekMom: More seriously: do you think that our world is becoming like Thursday’s RealWorld in First Among Sequels? With more reality-shows and less reading, and a shortening Now? Or are you more optimistic and think that we are saved from this danger and our Now is growing again?  (subliminate question behind this one: can we Geek Moms save the world by trying to lengthen our children’s Now?)

Jasper Fforde: Thankfully, reality shows seem to be on the wane, but don’t forget that we are changing into our own parents, and tutting at things that our parents used to tut to us about, so whinges we may have about how rubbish things are today might simply be because that’s what happens when you start getting older, and objectivity is not as clear cut as it should be.

Mind you, our kids aren’t objective either. Perhaps there is a moment, eight minutes in length sometime around one’s 27th birthday when you finally get it, and everything is truthful and clear cut. But then someone cuts the queue in front of you and you get all self-righteous, and the moment’s gone. Yes, I think attention spans should be longer, and rather than trying to decrease our tragically short window humans seem to find themselves in – about four years, it seems – we should attempt to broaden it. Sadly, I don’t think we’re wired that way.

It’s evolution’s little joke: Eye-popping intelligence, but almost no wisdom. The world needs a few more grown-ups in positions of power, to be honest.

Should we try and instill a longer Now in our kids? Of course. But they probably won’t like it. If there is a clash between popular culture and a parent’s waggy finger, guess who’s going to win. My view on this whole deal is to introduce your kids to good and worthy stuff when you still have any control, then wave the white flag during the dark teenage years. You’ll be surprised how much stuff bubbles to the surface later on.

GeekMom: How is it to tour the USA for a writer? Does it involve a lot of sex, drugs, and experimental writing?

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing, by Jasper Fforde, books on a bookshelf falling on a tiny female character
Thursday Next 6th book, American edition cover

Jasper Fforde: Great fun, actually, as all tours are. Meeting people, and hearing which parts of my books appealed to them is of especial interest. It also allows me a period of guilt-free non-writing, as I rarely have a moment to myself on tour, and believe me, guilt-free procrastination is very hard to come by. Two books a year is a stretch, so I have to write all day most days. Doesn’t work that way, but I feel I’ve wasted a day if I haven’t got something down.

Tours are very frenetic. If my only view of the States was from my book tours, I would be able to say categorically that 95% of America was Airports, Bookstores, Cabs, Hotels, Starbucks and trying to find somewhere that can do laundry in under eighteen hours.

To be continued… with GeekMom’s review of One of our Thursdays Is Missing. For now, you may pre-order your own copy !

You may also compete to win the two millionth copy of his book, a ‘C’ format UK 1st edition of Shades of Grey, signed by Jasper Fforde, by entering the TN6 Sleuthing competition. Questions will be posted up there on the 1st March 2011.

Is Jasper Fforde coming somewhere close to you? Check the dates of the UK and USA/Canada Tours.

What Should (Candy) Hearts Say?

Image courtesy of Oskay's flickr photostream

Those chalky Valentine heart candies don’t have much to say. Unless “Be Mine” is exactly the sentiment you’re trying to get across.

The genius minds at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories subvert upgrade this tradition. Here are four refreshingly different ways to present your loved ones with more unique candy heart sentiments.

  1. Using the traditional Valentine candies, simply sand off the unoriginal original phrases. Then use a food marker or rubber stamp to write your own messages. The possibilities are only limited by the size.
  2. Consider a more metaphorical message. Carefully arrange a whole bag of candy hearts into one heap resembling a large heart and bake it in the oven. It will fuse together in a bizarre you-melt-me sort of way. Unless you don’t follow the instructions exactly, in which case your heart will break before it ever cools down completely.
  3. Use those candy hearts to write your sentiments where everyone can see them. On the sidewalk. These candies not only taste like calcium supplements, they also work as somewhat usable chalk although the colors (disappointingly) aren’t very noticeable.
  4. Get inspired. Make your own shortbread cookie version of these candies. They’re larger, tastier, and provide a much larger surface area for your message.

Getting Warmed Up For Valentine’s Day Week

Tree decorated for Valentine's Day in San Dieg...
Image via Wikipedia

Between now and Monday, Valentine’s Day, we’ll be featuring several posts with a Valentine theme. Recipes, science, and relationships will all be among the topics of conversation. What are your favorite geeky Valentine’s Day activities? How did you woo your favorite geek? What kind of traditions have you made with your children? We want to hear about what having a geeky Valentine’s Day means to you.

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Snow Geeks: Wired on the Mountain

Photo by Alexandra Siy

Once upon a time there were Snow Bunnies and Ski Bums. They sewed patches on their jackets and collected pins to stick in their hats. But the Mountain has changed…

Yesterday, I skied Vail. When I got home I went straight to Epic Mix and found out I had earned my Quarter Life  pin (for covering 25,000 vertical feet this season) and my 9er. On Thanksgiving I earned a Snow Turkey pin at Breckenridge

9er: Earned for 9 checkins on one mountain in one day!

My kids love the pins and the statistics and the sharing on Facebook. Still…it feels a little like Big Brother is watching. But no harm done, and it beats sewing patches on jackets.

My Quarter Life pin.
Photo by Alexandra Siy

Who Is The Geekiest Disney Princess?

Belle and her book. (Image: Disney)

Princess Week got me to thinking, which Disney Princess is the geekiest? All the princesses have their little quirks. Cinderella is a clean freak who has trouble keeping track of time. Sleeping Beauty wants to marry a guy she met in the woods and seems upset to find out she is a princess. Pocahontas can talk to the trees and magically understand English. Mulan exhibits courage by taking her father’s place in battle, cross dressing, and using her wit and intelligence to defeat the Huns. But which one exudes geekiness? Which one thinks outside of the proverbial princess box?  The answer: Beauty and the Beast‘s Belle.

Belle is an independent thinker, was raised in a geeky household, and loves to read. Her dad loves to tinker and make inventions and growing up in a house like that she was bound to be geeky. In a time when it was unheard of for women to think for themselves, Belle does exactly that. She is not afraid to speak her mind, even when her thoughts are unpopular. She is curious and often indulges her curiosity to learn things. For instance, the Beast forbids her to go to the West Wing, but curiosity gets the better of her and she goes anyway. Sure, she ends up with the Beast angry with her, out in the snow, about to be eaten by wolves, but if she hadn’t gone up there she would never have known about the magic rose.

A Belle fan, with X-ray glasses. (Image: Jen D)

Belle cares nothing for convention and the customs of the day. The entire town sings a song about how different she is, for Pete’s sake. She reads when it is unpopular for women to do so. Gaston even comments on how “It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas and…thinking.” That line irritates me every time. She rides a horse on her own without a male chaperone. She is independent and takes care of herself. She is smart enough to know that Gaston is a loser. Despite being all muscle-y he is missing it where it counts, in his brain. While the blonde bimbettes moan and groan about how gorgeous he is, Belle rejects his advances and even calls him a monster at one point.

When she finds herself in an enchanted castle with talking tea cups and clocks, she is shocked at first but then takes it in stride. She does her best to adapt to her situation and even attempts to make it better. She seems to enjoy spending time alone and doesn’t seem to seek out the company of others much.

I see some of my geekiness in Belle. My love of reading, strong opinions, flaunting of conventions, and intelligence helped me achieve my geeky happily ever after just like they helped Belle achieve hers.

Get Physics Now!

Web Superstar Professor Walter Lewin

I didn’t get physics in high school. All I remember was Mr. Cleaves rubbing a wand and the rude comments the demonstration sparked (no pun intended). But I loved calculus and photography. Now I know why. It ‘s always the teacher. Finally, I get physics and it’s all because of Walter Lewin, Professor of Physics, Emeritus at MIT.

It seems I’m not the only one. A note to Professor Lewin from a florist was reprinted in The New York Times:

“I walk with a new spring in my step and I look at life through physics-colored eyes,” wrote 62-year old Steve Boigon. “Thank you with all my heart.”

I’ve been watching Course 8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics. Lectures for wider audiences are also available. Check out the “Wonders of Electricity and Magnetism” Lewin gave at the MIT Museum for the Family Adventures in Science and Technology Program.

I promise, you will fall in love with Professor Lewin. If you don’t, you’re not a geek.